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► The United States has surpassed 3 million coronavirus cases.
► The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling today that will finally make right-wing Republicans happy. From The Washington Post:
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration may allow employers and universities to opt out of the Affordable Care Act requirement to provide contraceptive care because of religious or moral objections.
The issue has been at the heart of an intense legal battle for nine years, first with the Obama administration sparring with religious organizations who said offering contraceptive care to their employees violated their beliefs, and then with the Trump administration broadening the exemption, angering women’s groups, health organizations and Democratic-led states.
Wednesday’s decision greatly expands the ability of employers to claim the exemption, and the government estimates that it could mean that 70,000 to 126,000 women could lose access to cost-free birth control.
And the Trump campaign wonders why female voters are abandoning him in droves.
There should be another big Supreme Court announcement on Thursday — whether or not congressional committees and a New York prosecutor should be allowed to see Trump’s personal financial records.
► President Trump says that any hesitancy to re-open schools in the fall is about trying to make him look bad, or something. Now he’s threatening to cut off federal aid for school districts that don’t just open up regardless of the health risks. Chris Cillizza of CNN thinks this is a bad move for Trump:
“We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons,” said Trump. “They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed. No way. So we’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open.”
The “why” here is simple: Trump’s poll numbers — and chances at winning a second term this fall — have taken a huge hit as the country has turned on how the President and his administration have handled the ongoing pandemic. (Trump’s job approval was at just 38% in a new Gallup poll released earlier this week.) He desperately wants to kickstart the economy and needs people to feel as though they are returning to “normal,” and getting kids back to school is, he believes, one of the best ways to do just that.
The problem is that Trump is so focused on his political imperatives that he is losing sight of the bigger picture here: Forcing — or pressuring — schools to fully reopen will jeopardize the health of teachers and could well boomerang back on him from both a public health and political perspective.
Attempting to “force” schools to open could have a cascading effect that ends up “forcing” schools to close altogether:
…if a USA Today/Ipsos poll conducted in May is any indication, plenty of teachers will walk away from the profession rather than risk their health. That survey showed that 1 in 5 teachers said they would not return to the classroom if schools reopened in the fall, a number that could well cripple any attempts to reopen schools anyway.
The reality is that school opening decisions are made by governors and local officials, not the President of the United States. And, even if schools do reopen, it’s not at all clear that enough teachers will show up to make it feasible.
Earlier this week, Florida’s Education Commissioner announced that he would require all schools to be open for in-person learning five days a week.
► Sticking with the subject of education, international students in Colorado are facing more questions than answers about resuming classes in the fall. From The Denver Post:
International students at Colorado universities are worried about their educational futures following a new directive from federal immigration officials that would require them to change schools or leave the country should their institution revert to full online learning this fall.
The new guidance is meant to encourage schools that closed their campuses and moved online due to the pandemic to physically reopen, Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, said in a CNN interview Tuesday.
“If they don’t reopen this semester, there isn’t a reason for a person holding a student visa to be present in the country,” Cuccinelli said. “They should go home, and they can return when the school reopens.”
Tanya Roussy, a University of Colorado Boulder graduate student from Canada who is researching physics, said Tuesday that she felt it was “pretty clear with this government that cruelty is the point.”
► You’re going to be reading a lot about businesses that received PPP loans from the federal government now that data has been made public. The list of businesses that received loans of at least $1 million is…frustrating.
Irony? Yeah, there’s that, too.
If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…